The U.S. Army is to acquire a new vehicle, one which is more commonly seen in science fiction than real life.
A UK-based company called Malloy Aeronautics has been developing the hoverbike for the past few years, garnering great public interest. The vehicle was even subject to a Kickstarter campaign as Malloy attempted to raise funds to continue its development, and now the U.S. Army has struck a deal with the manufacturer, writes Sean O’Kane for The Verge.
U.S. Army to develop military hoverbikes
Despite the public nature of the project up until this point, it now appears that information on the hoverbike might become a lot harder to access. The U.S. Department of Defense has struck a deal with Malloy to develop hoverbikes for military use, which will presumably take technical details of the project out of the public eye.
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The hoverbike will now be developed by Malloy in conjunction with U.S. firm SURVICE, which has 30 years experience in the field of defense research and development. So far Malloy has only developed scale models of the hoverbike, but the significant budget of the DoD will see the project push ahead unrestricted by previous budget restraints.
The technology interests the Army for multiple reasons. First of all, the fact that the rotors are guarded prevents them from slicing into people or objects around them, making the vehicle relatively safe. Costs are considerably lower than for a helicopter, and the hoverbike offers greater maneuverability. The Army also has the option to use the vehicle as a large drone which is operated autonomously, or have a human pilot operate it.
Full size functioning model to be built
According to Malloy, the hoverbike is a great vehicle for use during search and rescue or cargo delivery missions. It would also be useful for surveillance, with a planned full-scale version featuring a humanoid figure with a camera mounted on its head.
Under the terms of the deal, a functioning full-scale model of the vehicle is expected to be built, before the DoD designs prototypes to military specifications. Malloy is free to develop a commercial version of the hoverbike, as well as making scale models.
It might not be too long before U.S. soldiers have a hoverbike to zip around on, fulfilling the childhood dreams of Star Wars fans.